That’s Not Fair!

One way to know if you’ve really understood a parable of Jesus is to check your reaction.  Here are some reactions that demonstrate you probably did NOT get his point:

  • You think to yourself, “this really applies well for  (name of someone besides yourself)
  • You think the point is being able to explain the meaning and U.S. currency equivalents for denarii, talents and minas.
  • You allegorize the details so that every character, event, animal, and object has a direct parallel.

One way to know that you have indeed gotten the point is to proclaim, “God have mercy on me a sinner.”  Jesus’ parables have a way to pointing out our flaws in such a subtle way that his point may not hit you right away.  Sometimes the parable has to roll around inside your head for awhile and then, when you least expect it, it hits you right between the eyes.

The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) is like that.  I can relate to the men who worked 12 hours and were upset that those who barely broke a sweat got paid that same wage.  Surely this would have potential to be a class action lawsuit.  When I think of my own hard work in the kingdom of God, do the years and years of effort, study, sacrifice, and self-denial not pay off in some BIG way?  After years of resisting temptation and willingly suffering abuse and ridicule for my faith, do I now have to share my crown of glory with a sexual pervert and mass murderer who comes to Christ in the 11th hour?

God hears my pitiful cry of “That’s not fair!” and responds, “What are you upset about?  I want to give grace to everyone who turns to me, even those who come at the last minute.  Don’t I have a right to do what I want with my grace?  Or are you envious, because I am so generous?”  Ouch, right between the eyes.  “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” 

(If you want to read about Jeffrey Dahmer’s conversion to Christ read Dark Journey Deep Grace.  To read my review check our Amazon and search the reviews.)

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.


One Response to “That’s Not Fair!”

  1. When you started out I thought I knew where you were going. I was like, “Oh, I’ve heard this bit before.” I was the 12hr vineyard worker. When you were preaching I was thinking on the 11th hour people, “Sure, come on in. You deserve the same reward as I.” (kind of smuggly though)

    I'd say all this with my eyes closed. If Christ's commands they're in, well, fine, whom am I to argue. Yet this morning a scandal broke out. You could almost see the uneasiness as folks around the congregation shifted in their seats, especially those who can remember Dahmer – and what he did.

    I was even surprised by that news! Not because it was new news, but that it was relational. “God's letting that guy in!!!” was painted all over my face, no doubt. But when you think about it more, you see the love of God more. No boundaries, no drawn line in the sand- just Him and His children. Even when people seem to be the hardest to love, its not too hard for God.

    It’s easy to think of love and forgiveness for those who seek God at the 11th hour, so long as they've lived a somewhat decent life. But Dahmer? It’s a shock really and to be a little more honest, a little sickening.

    However, as much “unfair” as it might be, I thought the same for my own forgiveness.

    I'm grateful for the lesson Byron. It’s good to shake the roots and gain some perspective that God's not only looking out for those long tired 12hr vineyard workers, but also those who've been standing around unsure if they’d be excepted. I was grateful to see an example of God's powerful scandalous grace!

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